MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD QUORUMS
STERLING PARK WARD
ASHBURN, VA STAKE
Brethren, thank you for being here. I have asked that
be in attendance today. About a month ago, while pondering about my calling in our ward, the Spirit assigned me to teach a lesson about keeping our young men clean from the blood and sins of their generation. I have prayed that I might deliver this message with love and kindness. I have asked for the Spirit to be my teaching companion, and hope the He will teach you the parts of this lesson that are applicable in your families.
Let me take a few minutes and cite for you five trends and changes in the church. I would like you to see if you can identify the common thread that ties these together.
What big picture do these trends paint?
The big picture is that missionaries must be fully prepared BEFORE they leave.
The mission president can no longer be the mother hen of the missionaries. There are just too many of them. Teaching the gospel is not so simple as memorizing the discussions. The missionaries must be guided by the Spirit to know which doctrines and principles to teach. This means the missionary must have the Spirit in his heart and the doctrine in his head before he teaches his very first discussion. The missionary must arrive in the field having already overcome contentiousness, and being fully able to work hard. This is what Elder Ballard means when he says, "the bar that is the standard for missionary service is being raised."
Now, where do we think the prospective missionary will get prepared, and who do we think will do the preparing?
Right! A prospective missionary is prepared in the home by the father.
D&C 68:25 - And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.
The father has the responsibility and authority to fully prepare his sons for full-time missionary service. Listen to Elder Ballard's words:
Now, fathers, you have a vital role in this preparation process. We know that the most profound influence on helping young men prepare for the Melchizedek Priesthood, marriage, and fatherhood is the family. If your sons understand the basic doctrines required to become a faithful father, they will surely be ready to serve as a full-time missionary. Unfortunately, far too many fathers abdicate this eternal responsibility. You may assume that the bishop and the seminary, Sunday School, and Young Men teachers and leaders are in a better position to motivate and inspire your sons than you are. That simply is not the case. While ecclesiastical leaders are important to your son's priesthood and missionary preparation, the Church exists as a resource to you. It is not a substitute for your inspired teaching, guidance, and correction. Consequently, if we are "raising the bar" for your sons to serve as missionaries, that means we are also "raising the bar" for you. If we expect more of them, that means we expect more of you and your wife as well. (172nd Semiannual General Conference, Priesthood Session, Saturday 05 October 2002)
As a father, let me tell you that I am not quite up to the task. I would venture to say that nearly all fathers are inadequate to the task. We need help in a big way.
The most important help a father has is the Holy Ghost. These are Father in Heaven's sons, too. There is no substitute for being guided by the Spirit. Next, a father has the mother of his sons as the second most important source of help. Consulting and prayer with your partner is a must. But, what I want to talk about today is the help the church can provide.
The church has produced a lesson plan for fathers to use in preparing their sons. It is called the Duty To God Award program. Fathers, the program is designed so that you are responsible for helping your young men achieve the Duty to God Award. You are to be the mentor that guides your sons in choosing which optional requirements to pursue. You are to work with your sons and help them complete the requirements in the program. You are the judge to whom your sons are to pass off the requirements. In his talk, Elder Ballard said the father's role was vital.
The vital sign of the Duty To God process is the father's involvement. Without the father, there is no life in the Duty to God process, and it dies. A young man cannot achieve his Duty to God Award without intimate involvement of the father. It is a very rare young man that can prepare to be one of the "new" missionaries without the active participation by his father.
I would like to offer some invitations.
Fathers, I invite you to discuss this lesson with your wives and seek their counsel, advice, and partnership. I invite you to pray with your wives to seek divine intervention. I invite you to conduct interviews with your sons to assess where they are in their life--and with respect to the Duty to God program. I invite you to map out with your son, a plan to complete the certificate they are working on (Deacon, Teacher, Priest); and then begin to work with your sons to complete the requirements. To help you in your responsibility, Brother Mitchell, our Young Men's Secretary, has prepared Duty to God check sheets for Deacons, Teachers, and Priests, suitable for posting on the refrigerator. I invite you to date the requirements as they are completed. I invite you to hold regular worthiness interviews with your sons.
Home Teachers, I invite you to ask to see the Duty to God booklets every time you home teach. EVERY TIME.. Please ask the young man what he has completed since your last visit and what he plans to complete before your next visit. EVERY TIME. Offer your services to the father to help with the Duty to God process.
Home Teaching Companions, I invite you to ask the young man to give a lesson to your families, based on one of the scriptural reading assignments he has passed off with his father. You can do this up to 6 times a year. Let the Spirit guide you and him as you select the material for your families. This is direct preparation for missionary teaching.
Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum Leaders, I invite you to teach the fathers their duty to prepare their sons. I invite you to prepare the fathers so they can teach their sons. I invite you to hold stewardship interviews with each father, and in that interview, go over the his progress in preparing his son to go on a mission through fulfilling Duty to God requirements. I invite you to actually look at the Duty to God book during the interview and see the signatures for yourself.
Young Men's Presidency, I invite you to be rigorous in doing the few Quorum activities required by the Duty to God Award.
Young Men's Secretary, I invite you to inspect the books often and keep your records up to date.
Bishop's Counselors, I invite you to hold your 6-month interview on time and without fail. I invite you to review the signatures in the Duty to God books during each interview.
Bishop, I invite myself to hold my annual and 6-month interviews on time and without fail. I invite myself to review the signatures in the Duty to God books every time I hold an interview.
All, I invite you to read Elder Ballard's talk carefully. Please pray and ask Heavenly Father if the principles in the talk are true. Please pray to get an understanding of your responsibilities. Please pray to have the Holy Ghost strengthen you, to comfort you, and to help you succeed.
Brethren, I testify that the work to prepare the world for the second coming is accelerating. I testify that the Duty to God process is an inspired part of that preparation. I testify that as you and your sons work on the Duty to God requirements you will feel the Spirit. I testify that completion of this program will prepare your sons for missionary and parental service. I promise you and bless you--as the Presiding High Priest and the President of the Aaronic Priesthood in this ward--that your faithfulness in pursuing this effort will bring down the blessings of Heaven in your home. Some of you will see miracles happen.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.